PHY-30012 - Electromagnetism
Coordinator: Rob Jeffries Room: LJ2.08 Tel: +44 1782 7 33892
Lecture Time: See Timetable...
Level: Level 6
Credits: 15
Study Hours: 150
School Office: 01782 734921

Programme/Approved Electives for 2023/24


Available as a Free Standing Elective





Successful completion of Level 5 Physics or Astrophysics

Barred Combinations


Description for 2023/24

Much of our modern-day lives are governed by devices and technologies that rely on an understanding of the behaviour of electromagnetic fields and waves in a variety of situations and media.
This module provides a classical description of electromagnetic waves and electromagnetic fields, based upon Maxwell's equations. The module begins by reviewing Maxwell's equations in integral form, before moving onto Gauss's and Stokes's theorem and a generalisation of Maxwell's equations to their more powerful differential form. These are then used to explore the properties of electromagnetic waves in vacuum and then in conducting and non-conducting media are explored. The behaviour of electromagnetic fields at the interfaces between media is described and we see that simple physics such as the laws of reflection and refraction are basic consequences of Maxwell's equations. The module acts as an introduction to more advanced topics in physics through the concepts of electromagnetic potentials, gauge transformations, the generation of electromagnetic waves and the deep connection between electromagnetism and relativity. The course has a significant mathematical content, particularly in dealing with partial differential equations and the properties of vector and scalar fields in three dimensions and in several coordinate systems using the methods of vector calculus.
Students will gain an appreciation of the beauty of Maxwell's universe and how simple sets of laws and equations can lead to myriad complex, yet often highly useful, behaviours that find applications in many areas of physics and astrophysics - from mobile communications devices to gamma ray bursts. They will learn how to deal with complex three-dimensional problems, and how to choose appropriate numerical or analytical methods to solve them.
This is a core Physics/Astrophysics module, dealing with a number of topics that are considered a compulsory part of an Institute-of-Physics-accredited degree course. A successful completion of level 4 and 5 Physics or Astrophysics is the only entry requirement.

To develop an understanding, at the undergraduate level, of electromagnetism and its applications in Physics, the nature of electromagnetic waves in vacuum and various media and of magnetism in solids. Describing the universe and the world around them.

Talis Aspire Reading List
Any reading lists will be provided by the start of the course.

Intended Learning Outcomes

outline the basic principles and laws governing the classical behaviour of electromagnetic fields: 1
solve electromagnetism problems using an appropriate choice of the integral or differential forms of Maxwell's equations and using an appropriate choice of coordinate systems: 1
perform analytical calculations, or where appropriate, numerical and computational electromagnetism calculations with the aid of spreadsheets and computer programs: 1
apply Maxwell's equations in order to understand the behaviour of electromagnetic fields and electromagnetic waves in vacuum, in, and at the interfaces between, dielectric media and conducting media: 1

Study hours

24 hours scheduled classroom sessions
12 hours tutorial attendance
40 hours problem sheets
74 hours private study

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment

1: Problem Sheets weighted 30%
Three problem sheets covering the topics taught in this module. Problems will consist of numerical problems, problem-solving and questions that assess the use of transferable skills such as the use of spreadsheets and computer programmes to tackle physical problems. Each problem sheet is 10% of the total module assessment and students might expect to spend about 10-15 hours on each sheet.

2: Unseen Exam weighted 70%
2 hour unseen examination with a mix of bookwork and problem-solving. Note that as a part of the "core of physics", as defined by the Institute of Physics, students are required to demonstrate individual competence in the topics included in this module - this is why a qualifying mark exists on the examination.